07.06.2010 18:44 - Wasps and Whippets Don't Mix
Lassie was our pet whippet. She was rather large for a whippet, so she might have been a small greyhound. Every year, we took Lassie with us on holiday to Lyme Regis, where we would stay on the farm of friends in our caravan.
Lassie was a lovely dog, and was mostly well-behaved. Like most greyhounds, she was a thief if given the opportunity, but by and large, you wouldn't notice she was there.
There were, however, exceptions. Wasps, for example. She couldn't stand wasps, and in the hot, hot summer of 1976, there were lots of wasps. Bad-tempered wasps, looking for trouble. It was on a hot, sun-drenched day that Lassie snapped at a wasp which wouldn't leave her alone. The wasp promptly landed on her nose and stung it. There was a yelp and she shot under the table. We had to drag the violently vibrating whippet from underneath the caravan table, fearing that the sting had somehow sent her into anaphylactic shock, such were the tremors. Fortunately they were only fear, and some soothing insect-sting medication helped. We took her to the vet, and he said not to worry. She'd probably learned her lesson.
How much she had learned her lesson was demonstrated the next day, when we had parked our Cortina Mk4 in the parking field just behind Charmouth beach. This was during lifeboat week in Lyme, which was a big event. They used to get, amongst other things, the Red Arrows, Ian Gillan, and, on this occasion, they had outdone themselves by getting a flyover from an F111 swing-wing supersonic bomber, at practically zero feet.
Now, I don't know if you are familiar with a General Dynamics F111, but to the typical Whippet, Wasps and F111s basically fall into the same category : Loud things that fly. Fearing that somehow she had invoked the wroth of the wasp's big brother, she gracefully leapt into the boot of the car and hid. It took three of us to get her on the beach, where she promptly dug a hole and hid in it. Next day at Lyme Regis beach, she did the same thing. This time we helped her cover herself up. I built the body of a Sphynx out of sand with her head coming out of the top, and draped a handkerchief over her ears, which got a few laughs and photos from passers-by.
From then on, whenever we were on Lyme or Charmouth beach, Lassie would always dig a hole and cover herself. After a few years, we found a spot next to the harbour wall where all the rocks where, where one of the rocks made a little cave, just right for a whippet. If not, then we dug her a hole (it was better than letting her spray everyone with sand) and erected a little sun-screen round her out of towels.
She never did it at any other beach, just Lyme and Charmouth, and she never tried catching wasps again.
So, if ever you are sorting through old photographs and come across a picture of a whippet doing an impression of a Sphynx at Lyme Regis beach, I'd be grateful for a copy.